A cuppa with Wilf Race, Chairman of Maltby Main.
Here at The Bootiful Game we are currently producing a series of in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers, Managers and players, not forgetting the referees involved in Non-League football, writes Margaret Gregory .
Our latest victim, sorry interviewee, is Wilf Race, Chairman of Maltby Main and we asked him how he first became involved with the club. “My role at Maltby Main in the first instance when I joined the club was to assemble a group of volunteers and consolidate the club’s position within the NCEL Premier League, and to assess the club’s resources and set targets for the Management in line with those resources. At that moment in time it was simple – maintain the club’s Premier League status,” Wilf remembered.
Wilf continued “We put together a 3-year plan that looked at our income streams and we set ourselves targets to improve our finances through new – and existing – sponsorship opportunities.”
“The club engaged with the local community and various initiatives were introduced to raise awareness and interest in a football club that was about to become 100 years old. This initiative worked well and our resources have steadily increased, as have our expectations on the field of play.”
But he added, “We still have a very difficult task ahead due to the lack of a lease on the ground. This is by far the club’s biggest test, as this lack of a lease is denying the football club access to funding which could be used to vastly improve our ageing facilities.”
We asked if the problem of the club lease took up a lot of his time. “I’m very fortunate in that my work commitments don’t take up much of my time,” he replied. “I run my own business, which is letting out properties which I have acquired over my working life. My last full-time job, about 8 years ago, was when I worked in aerospace for a very successful Sheffield based company.”
Now it was time to probe how his credentials guided his running of the club, to which end Wilf was happy to regale us with his excellent playing pedigree.
“At 16 I was playing in the NCEL for Denaby United before moving on to Mexborough Town in the old Midlands League,” he told us. “I was paid £10 a week expenses at Mexborough Town, at a time when my weekly take home pay via Lloyd’s bank was about the same. So, football effectively doubled my income, which was great at the time.”
“My job with Lloyds Bank took me all over the country leading to spells at Barton Town and Selby Town. When I eventually left Lloyd’s Bank and returned to the area I played for ‘Brian the Blade’ who was Joint Manager at Crookes. Now Brian was a real character and one of the few men who I can honestly say shaped my attitude in management, when I eventually took up this managing lark. Two other men, Colin and Harold Sapey were great Managers who I played for – and again my attitude to management was born out of the strengths of these men.”
“My first job in management was with Mexborough Main Street in the County Senior League. I then moved onto Parkgate as Reserve Team Manager, before eventually taking over as First Team Manager,” Wilf told us. “I’ve had a spell at Hallam, but the club that stole my heart was Maltby Main who I have managed twice, been Director of Football – and now I’m Chairman!!”
“It really is the ‘Little club with the big Heart,’” Wilf insisted, “However, over recent years the club has struggled on and off the pitch and is badly in need of an overhaul. The people of Maltby are proper working-class folks that appreciate effort and commitment on and off the field of play and deserve better surroundings to enjoy the beautiful game in.”
Wilf continued, “Strangely my best moments in football were with Sunday football when I was a player/manager. I ran successful sides and being the leader and a contributor on the pitch was exciting and hugely rewarding.”
Asked if there were any bad memories in his career, Wilf replied, “My only bad memory in football was my management stint at Hallam in the NCEL. It was the only time in football that I dreaded the journey and the 90 minutes of football. It was the wrong club for me and at the time the Chairman was very demanding – and his expectations were out of sync with the resources available. That said, I’m delighted to see the club is now flourishing and I hope that their hard work pays off for them with a return to the NCEL Premier League.”
Finally, Wilf re-iterated, “Our ambitions at Maltby will always be driven by current resources. It’s no good taking anything for granted because the picture can change from one season to another. We have plans to improve facilities and we continue to deliver on the field. However, the big cost improvements ultimately depend on our ability to raise or gain access to funding.”
Many thanks to Wilf for his time; and here at The Bootiful Game we hope his problems with funding can be resolved.